This is the day of Netzach within Yesod, endurance within connection. On this day, I think about making relationships last. It is a particularly pressing issue for me, personally, as I prepare to leave a community that has meant a lot to me over the last three years. This evening, in fact, there will be a dinner at the Temple for the congregation and me to say farewell to each other. So, I wonder about this: How do I make sure that the meaningful personal connections I have made endure after I have gone?
Just about every day for the last two months, someone has asked me, "Will you come visit after you move?" "Will you think of us?" and, most frequently of all, people ask, "Am I still going to be able to read your blog?"
It is undeniable that physical presence makes it a lot easier to maintain connection. "Out of sight" really does tend to lead to "out of mind." However, if I am committed to the idea of creating enduring relationships, I must also be willing to stay connected to people despite distance.
That is made more complicated by the nature of my profession. As one rabbi leaves a congregation, it is necessary to make room for the congregation's new rabbi to take his or her place. I have been fortunate in both of the congregation's I have served to have been followed by excellent rabbis. Just as I have intentionally stayed away from the last congregation I served to allow my successor to establish herself there, so do I now intend to make myself scarce after I leave Temple Beit HaYam to allow Rabbi Matthew Durbin to establish himself as the congregation's true and capable spiritual leader.
So, in answer to the questions:
• Yes, I will come visit after a few years have passed. I've heard that it gets cold in New England (ha ha) and that having a warm and friendly place in Florida to visit is a wonderful thing. Just don't expect me back too soon.
• Yes, I certainly will think often about the wonderful friendships I have made at Temple Beit HaYam and in Martin County. You will be in my prayers and in my heart. That is really what makes relationships endure. Don't you think?
• Yes, I fully intend to keep writing this blog. In fact, I started the blog as a way to stay in touch with friends at Congregation Beth Israel in Massachusetts when I left there. Whenever I write posts here, I think about the people near and far who read them, and that makes me feel that our connection continues and grows. If you read it, I will write it.
On this 39th day of the Counting of the Omer, I commit to sustaining and keeping my connection to people who are dear to me. I remember that our connections to other human beings are what, ultimately, make us human. Sustaining those connections keeps us human.
May this be a day in which you endure in all of your relationships – the ones that are tested by time, by difficult circumstances, and by physical distance. May you endure in your humanity by enduring in your connection to others.
For the introduction to the Counting of the Omer, click on this link:
The First Day of the Counting of the Omer